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Sports / Recreation

Rams honor six students with annual awards

July 26, 2010

Honoring several students in the athletic department, Colorado State announced its annual student-athlete awards for the 2009-2010 academic year.

The honorees:

  • Nye Award (outstanding male athlete): Bryce Hanstad, men's golf
  • Virginia K. Frank Award (outstanding female athlete): Kristen Hemphill, women's cross country/track & field
  • Merrill-Gheen Award (top male scholar-athlete): Ryan Friese, men's cross country/track and field
  • Mencimer Award (top female scholar-athlete): Nora Kennedy, swimming & diving
  • "Fum" McGraw Award (leadership, service to others, pride): Klint Kubiak, football
  • Keli McGregor Award (integrity, class): Tim Walter, football

During Homecoming and Family Weekend, the athletic department will present each of the awards at the Oct. 17 Ram Scholar-Athlete Brunch, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Lory Student Center.

Bryce Hanstad, Nye Trophy

Bryce Hanstad, a business administration major from Alexandria, Minn., who recently graduated with a 3.833 GPA, led the 2010 Rams to their second conference championship in three years. He tied for third in the Mountain West Conference with a stroke average of 71.66, which tied the fifth-best stroke average in CSU history. In addition, Hanstad had four top-10 finishes and six top-20 finishes, winding up fourth all-time on the list of career top-10 finishes at CSU. He led the Rams in two tournaments and also garnered all-conference honors, guiding the team to the NCAA regional in Bremerton, Wash. Hanstad joins current PGA pro Martin Laird as one of two men's golfers in CSU history to win the honor.

Presented annually to the school's most outstanding male athlete since 1929, the award was originally sponsored by its namesake, Col. E.L. Nye, a retired professor of pathology and bacteriology, and his brother, Dr. William Nye. Col. Nye lettered in track at Colorado State from 1913-14 and again in 1919, and at one time held the school's record for the 100-yard dash, 9.8 seconds, which at the time was among the fastest marks in the world. He also lettered in football and basketball along with track. The trophy is given each summer to a male student-athlete judged to be the best in the program, having contributed to the success of the team with his leadership, sportsmanship and performance. The list of previous winners includes some of the most prestigious athletes in athletics history at Colorado State, including several future NFL, NBA and MLB professionals, as well as Olympic athletes. Gartrell Johnson, now with the New York Giants, won the honor in 2009.

Kristen Hemphill, Frank Award

Kristen Hemphill, who graduated with a degree in nutrition and food science and a 3.571 GPA, was an All-American in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, finishing seventh in the nation at the NCAA championships (10 minutes, 7.40 seconds). The native of Los Alamos, N.M., set school records twice this season in the steeplechase, in addition to all-conference honors in two events (steeplechase, 5,000-meter run). She now owns five of the top six times in Rams steeplechase history. In cross country, she placed 10th in the Mountain region with a time of 21:16.30 seconds, then made her third overall appearance at nationals.

Frank, also known as Virginia K. Frank Olson, was a pioneer who organized and coached women's sports long before they were sanctioned by the NCAA. An amateur athlete as a speed skater, skier and softball player, she was instrumental during the 1950s and 60s in introducing track, volleyball, skiing, field hockey, badminton and softball to the CSU campus. The award was established in 1976. Previous winners include Amy Van Dyken, Becky Hammon and Mekana Barnes. Hemphill becomes the fifth CSU track athlete in the past seven years to win the honor, joining fellow All-Americans Janay DeLoach (2007, '08) and Loree Smith (2004, '05).

Ryan Friese, Merrill-Gheen Award

Ryan Friese, a middle-distance competitor from Rampart High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., isn't finished with his college eligibility and will return this fall for his final season on the Rams' cross country team, having competed at regionals in 2009. In track, Friese is a two-time Mountain West champion in the 800 meters, and owns multiple all-conference performances in both the 800 and the 4x400-meter relay, after beginning his career as a triple jumper.

Dual majoring in computer engineering and computer science, Friese expects to graduate in spring 2011. The top student in CSU's electrical and computer engineering department, he currently has a 3.829 GPA. An academic all-conference selection every semester in which he has been eligible, he also has earned academic All-America honors twice and is expected to add a third certificate to his collection later this summer. Winner of the Robinson Upton Award Winner for outstanding track and field performance, he has overcome illness and injuries to achieve a successful career. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in computer engineering.

Presented annually to the school's most outstanding male scholar-athlete, the Merrill-Gheen is based on academic excellence, athletic achievement and campus activities. Upon its inception in 1964, the award originally was named after Russell Merrill, a long-time Rams booster and former baseball player. The name of the award was later changed to include Joseph Gheen, a close friend of Merrill's, beginning in 1969. Prior winners include Jeff Horinek, Casey Malone, Greg Myers, Steve Fairchild and Jack Upton.

Nora Kennedy, Mencimer Award

One of the top scholar-athletes in CSU history in one of the most grueling sports, Nora Kennedy completed her eligibility in 2010 having achieved four consecutive swimming all-conference and academic all-conference selections. A Fort Collins High School product, she graduated summa cum laude this past spring with a 3.977 GPA in health and exercise science, having never received a grade below A-minus. Admitted for the fall semester, Kennedy will pursue a doctorate in physical therapy at Creighton University, a highly competitive academic program.

Kennedy finished fifth in the 1650 Freestyle and seventh in the 100 Butterfly at the 2010 MWC championships, capping a fourth straight year of all-conference honors.

During her time at CSU, she was a member of the pre-physical therapy club, the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and Athletes in Action. She also served as a swim-lesson Instructor and participated annually in the MS Society Walk.

Since 1976, CSU has presented the Mencimer Memorial Award annually to its most outstanding female scholar-athlete, in memory of Catherine and Floyd Mencimer. Catherine J. Longmore (Mencimer) received her B.S. degree from Colorado State in 1936. She was active in the Women's Athletic Association and participated in field hockey, swimming and horeseback riding. Her husband, Floyd, earned his doctor of veterinary medicine in 1935. He lettered four years in football and baseball and was named all-conference in both sports as a senior. In 1973, he was named an Honorary Alumni Award winner. The Mencimers' three children all were involved in athletics as CSU students and initiated the award. The winner must be an upperclassman that has represented Colorado State in conference competition. Prior winners include April Thomas, Liz Toman, Shelly Greathouse (Borrman), Katherine Whitney and Marsha Landowski, before Kennedy the last swimmer to earn the honor, in 1995.

Klint Kubiak, McGraw Award

A team captain that battled a series of hard-luck circumstances during his six years at CSU, Klint Kubiak will be remembered as one of the most spirited and humble players in Rams history. After opening each of his last three seasons as a starting safety, assorted injuries conspired to end each year. He led the team in tackles, playing all 12 games as a sophomore in 2006. Fans will probably remember him most for his last-second Case Keenum interception in the end zone to preserve a 28-25 win over Houston in 2008.

A graduate of Denver's Regis High School, where he starred while his dad served as the Broncos offensive coordinator, Kubiak graduated this past spring with a degree in restaurant and resort management. After attending the East-West Shrine Game and earning an invitation to a Washington Redskins mini-camp on a tryout basis, he joined Mike Sherman's staff at Texas A&M, where he will begin his coaching career this season. Last month, he married former CSU volleyball player Tessa Nelson.

Named after perhaps the most prominent figure in CSU athletics history, Thurman "Fum McGraw, the honor goes to the CSU student-athlete that best exemplifies academic and athletic excellence, character, leadership, service, concern for others and unwavering Ram pride, those characteristics that define the spirit and essence of McGraw, CSU's first consensus All-American who returned to serve as the Rams' athletic director. Established after McGraw passed away, the award first went to Angela Knopf in 2002. Other winners have included Horinek, Jason Smith, Loree Smith and David Anderson.

Tim Walter, McGregor Award

The Keli McGregor Award, not to be confused with the Keli S. McGregor Memorial Football Scholarship given this year to returning sophomore Broderick Sargent, was created this spring and goes to a student-athlete in one of CSU's 16 varsity sports.

Tim Walter was the CSU student-athlete that best exemplified traits demonstrated by the honor's namesake, including integrity, honesty, leadership, class and competing the right way. The award recognizes the characteristics that best defined McGregor's legacy as an All-America tight end and outstanding student at CSU, an NFL player, and later President of the Rockies. Among the most prestigious honors given by CSU, the recognition is on par with the award named after McGraw, the athletic director whom McGregor credited with guaranteeing his scholarship on the heels of a 1982 coaching change.

Walter, an all-conference performer as the Rams' starting center, graduated in December with a degree in health and exercise science. He signed as a non-drafted free agent with the Chicago Bears and will join his former CSU teammate and Jay Cutler's current backup, Caleb Hanie, at training camp next week in Bourbonnais, Ill. Walter is one of four CSU offensive linemen from the 2009 lineup now on NFL rosters.